There’s no better way to start your summer than taking a dive into the splendid, colorful, and timeless world of Disney and Pixar’s latest animated release — Luca.
Enrico Casarosa’s feature-length directorial debut Luca tells the coming-of-age story of Luca Paguro, a boy who just so happens to be a sea monster, and his new best friend Alberto Scorfano, a fellow creature of the sea. The two set off on an adventure that will forever change their lives as they make their way onto dry land and immerse themselves in a charming, idyllic little town on the Italian Riveria called Portorosso.
As a 90s kid, I truly lived and breathed Pixar, growing up with iconic, groundbreaking features like Toy Story and A Bug’s Life constantly on repeat. Now, in adulthood, I still readily look forward to each and every film that joins Pixar’s ever-growing slate. I felt particularly drawn to Luca upon first glance, because the premise seemed delightfully fun, and I can confidently say that I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.
Luca draws viewers in right from the start with a beautifully animated, lush underwater landscape populated by mythical creatures. Sure, we’ve seen our fair share of animated fish from Pixar, and we’ve also seen more than a few monsters. But now we’ve moved onto sea monsters, an intriguing community of affable residents of the deep. Equipped with an overall design that’s equal parts cute, sleek, and whimsical, the individual monsters have their own color schemes, along with face and body shapes and sizes akin to human features. The film is jam-packed with funny, likeable, and relatable characters, sea monsters and humans alike.
And as for Portorosso, viewers will find themselves desperately wanting to join Luca and Alberto in getting to know the nooks and crannies of this quaint little coastal settlement. The Italian setting and influence of Luca serves as a lovely, rich backdrop for this story (and yes, there’s plenty of pasta).
As to be expected, Luca comes with its fair share of wholesome life lessons, ones that can be appreciated by both children and adults. The film’s most obvious, prevailing theme is that of friendship, which is explored in varying depths between Luca, Alberto, and Giulia as the three of them get to know one another and have the summer of their lives. There’s also plenty of focus on learning how to step outside of your comfort zone and all of the splendor and potential that lies waiting for those that are bold enough to take that leap (along with a gentle reminder to trust in those that are cheering us on from the other side.) And finally, given that the boys are traversing through a town whose residents notoriously despise sea monsters, there’s much to be said about prejudice and learning to proudly be yourself.
I won’t spoil the ending here, but I can confidently say that it’s a wholesome tearjerker, which should come as no surprise. And though the animated portion of the film comes to an end, audiences should pay attention to the artwork that follows in the credits, for it will give a heartwarming taste of a continuation of Luca and co.’s exploits beyond the final scene.
My one and only gripe has nothing to do with the movie itself, but rather the unfortunate circumstances that prevent it from landing in theaters at this time. Luca is a truly magnificent film set upon a gorgeous landscape, and it’s a shame that audiences will not have the chance to take in the dreamy town of Portorosso — with its colorful buildings, brilliant small details, narrow alleyways, steep hills, and the vastness of the sea beyond — on the big screen.
Despite its limited theatrical release, it’s reassuring to know that it will at least be available to a wide audience from the comfort of their homes (who will be able to watch it on repeat!) Luca will land on Disney+ this Friday, June 18, and it will be available to all subscribers at no extra cost.